Rihanna may have been taking a bit of a hiatus from music recently with all her entrepreneurial endeavors, but some of her hits will remain timeless classics. The song “Umbrella” is of that caliber. This track marked a definitive turning point in Rihanna’s career, both accolades-wise and commercial success. And to think that this song was going to be someone else’s initially.
Rihanna released “Umbrella” as the lead single from her third studio album ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ in 2007. The songwriters, Kuk Harrell and Tricky Stewart wrote the song for Britney Spears but her management refused it. Next in line was Rihanna and she took on the project gladly. The song also features a rap verse by Jay-Z.
At the 58th Grammy Awards in 2008, “Umbrella” also earned Rihanna and Jay-Z a Grammy Award for ‘Best Rap/Sung Collaboration’ in addition to receiving nominations for ‘Record of the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year.’ The song is also ranked at #412 on Rolling Stone’s ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time‘ list.
The song reached #1 in both UK Singles Chart and US Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It also reached #1 in several other countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, and more. In addition, the song has sold over 10 million copies worldwide since its release.
The ‘Rihanna Curse’
“Umbrella” is a song associated with rain and accidentally enough severe rainfall seemed to follow the song during its peaks. In the UK, when “Umbrella” hit #1, the country experienced severe rainfall and floods. The same weather phenomenon was reported both in New Zealand and Romania when the song peaked in each country.
Watch “Umbrella” by Rihanna Ft. Jay-Z
Buy ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ Album on Apple Music and Amazon
“Umbrella” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
In an interview, Rihanna explained what “Umbrella” meant to her; “An umbrella is protection, it protects you from rain. The rain in this case is negativeness and vulnerability.”
Jay-Z sets up the tone for the song with his rap verse.
Jay-Z jumps hoops with the themes of the actual rain, the metaphor rain stands for, difficult times, and the fact that he is not impacted by any hardships other mortals endure.
No clouds in my stones
Let it rain, I hydroplane in the bank
While ‘stones’ refer to diamonds, clouds refer to impurities in these precious gems that diminish their value. Jay-Z flexes that he owns the best of the best diamonds that his money bought. ‘Clouds’ is also a tie-in with the ongoing rainy theme. ‘Hydroplaning’ is drifting on a thin layer of water, which reduces traction, and causes many deadly vehicle accidents. But, Jay-Z says that his life is so easy, and without struggle, thanks to the wealth he built up over the years.
However, Jay also says that he likes to build up a cache for a rainy day. He calls himself the ‘rain man,’ a popular reference to a person with bountiful gifts. In the hip-hop game, rain man usually refers to someone with excellent lyrical skills.
At the end of his verse, Jay-Z introduces Rihanna as Little Miss Sunshine–a play on the ongoing weather theme and a contrast to the rain which represents difficult times, and sunshine representing good times.
Listen to the Acoustic Cover of “Umbrella” by Rihanna
Rihanna begins the romantic aspect of “Umbrella,” singing about how she can be the protector of her lover from what ‘rain’ stands for.
Rihanna knows the life of celebrities like herself can be difficult on her relationships. She promises that she will do her best to shelter them from all the dark times that life usually throws at them.
When times get dark, you usually lose sight of the brighter things in your life as darkness overshadows light. So, it is important to have hope and even more so surround yourself with people who can guide you through the dark times.
When the sun shine, we shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be your friend
Took an oath, I’ma stick it out to the end
They say only the people who were there by your side in your darkest times deserve to stand by you in your best days. This is what Rihanna promises to bring to this relationship. While they will hold each other’s hands in dark times, both of them will shine together.
You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh
Under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh
The umbrella represents protection and a safe haven from the darkness around a person.
Watch Rihanna Perform “Umbrella” Live
In the third verse of the song, Rihanna continues her love ballad. She promises that nothing can come between them and their love will endure.
Dark times usually test the limits of relationships. The relationship needs to be at 100% to get through hard times. It does not matter who brings in the 100%, as long as it is there.
Rihanna also sings that these difficult times might beat them down. She promises that if she cannot help soften the blow, she will be there for the recovery.
In these lyrics, Rihanna further comforts her lover saying that she will be right there next to them to guide them through their difficult times. So, she let her partner know that whatever storms batter him, she will weather them.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.